Jim Thome is no longer able to play first base, so now that interleague play is over, he’s limited to pinch-hitting duties. The future Hall of Famer hasn’t fared too well in that role to date, going just 1-for-16 with one homer and 11 strikeouts, so the Phillies are now open to setting him free.
Jayson Stark of ESPN.com was told by American League clubs that the Phillies have made Thome available for trade to clubs that need a designated hitter. The veteran slugger would prefer to play for the White Sox or Twins, but there’s not a clear fit with either club right now.
While Thome served a lengthy stint on the disabled list this season due to a back injury, he recently showcased what he could do if given regular at-bats out of the DH spot by hitting .333 (12-for-36) with four homers, two doubles and 14 RBI over nine games during interleague play.
Thome is only making a modest $1.25 million this season, so he’d be a worthwhile gamble for a contender. The 41-year-old is currently tied with Sammy Sosa for seventh all-time with 609 career home runs.
Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.
I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.
I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.
As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.
There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.
Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.
Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.
With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.